Tyler Junior College


Faculty Bios

Carolyn Hanna

— Director of TJC Academy of Dance, Program Coordinator of the TJC Dance Department, Professor of Dance

Carolyn began her dance training in Libertyville, Illinois, under the direction of Lisa Sheppard and Paula Young David at Dance Academy of Libertyville. There, on a merit-based scholarship, she was fortunate enough to perform with dancers from The Joffrey Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, and River North Dance Chicago, to name a few. She studied year-round, participating in summer programs at The Milwaukee Ballet, Boston Ballet, and on scholarship at Gus Giordano Jazz as well as River North Dance Chicago — where she would later become a summer apprentice.

After her acceptance to The Juilliard School, Carolyn left home to study in New York City. There she trained under renowned teachers such as Alexandra Wells, Andra Corvino, Risa Steinberg, Milton Myers, and Lawrence Rhodes, among others. She performed pieces by Ohad Naharin, Elliot Feld, and Susan Marshall, and danced soloist roles by Martha Graham in Appalachain Spring, Robert Battle’s No Longer Silent, Doug Varone’s Constant Shift of Pulse, and Andrea Miller’s Girl with Microphone. Upon receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts, Carolyn was one of six dancers selected to perform throughout Peru with The Juilliard Ensemble, where she achieved a soloist role in José Limón’s A Time to be Silent. 

Carolyn went on to dance and choreograph professionally for the next six years — a few highlights include her three year collaboration with Janis Brenner and Dancers, choreographing The Cherry Lane Theater’s production of A Perfect Future, and performing in the New York City Opera’s 2011 Season.

Yayoi Jones

Yayoi JonesYayoi Jones began her dance training with Yoshie Wakabayashi at Wakabayashi Ballet School in her hometown of Niigata, Japan. She moved to the United States and furthered her training on scholarship at Sam Houston State University, TX, where she studied under Jennifer Pontius, Dana Nicolay, Dr. Cindy Gratz, Kista Tuker, Melissa Wynn, Jean Growthwall, and Hilary Bryan. She is a former dancer with Sam Houston State University Dance Company and performed at American College Dance Festival Gala Concert, University of Texas at Austin, Texas Christian University Gala Concert, Houston Hobby Center, University of Central Oklahoma, and Dallas Museum of Art. She graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance.

Mrs. Jones performed professionally with Kista Tucker Dance Company. She traveled with a company to perform a collaboration project “Vision of Sound”, a Concert of Live Music and Dance, and performed at SUNY Brockport, Syracuse, and University at Buffalo. She enjoyed dancing solo roles from “The Road”, “Snow”, and “Two Tears in the Dirt”.

Mrs. Jones also has also performed in various ballets including “The Nutcracker”, “Pas De Quatre”, “Coppelia”, “Raymonda”, “Swan Lake”, “Giselle”, “Sleeping Beauty”, and “Don Quixote”.

Since joining the TJC faculty in 2009, Mrs. Jones has choreographed for the annual dance performances “Student/Faculty Recital” and ‘DanceFest”. She also choreographed musicals “Chicago.” Her students have performed for Dancing with Tyler Stars, 2012. Mrs. Jones recently taught a master class at UIL Conferences. Many of her students have continued their collegiate dance education in colleges and universities across the United States. Mrs. Jones has been married to her husband, Michael Jones, for four years. They enjoy spending time with their beautiful daughter, Yuki.

Beth Bennett

Beth BennettBeth Bennett is a graduate of the University of North Texas' Radio, Television and Film Department with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While at UNT, she was privileged to study ballet with Dr. James Clouser and participate in productions with the Dance and Theater Arts Department such as the musical “Grease.” 

Beth taught ninth grade speech, communications, dance and theater with St. Mary’s Catholic School in Longview from 2011-2013. Beth also worked with students of all ages choreographing and setting after-school theater performances such as 101 Dalmatians, Sleeping Beauty, Willie Wonka, and Annie.  

Beth has experience in broadcast television, film production, commercials, modeling, radio advertising and on-air production. A student of ballet since childhood, Beth has danced in full-length classical productions alongside her mother Kathleen Steiner, in professional companies such as Nevada Festival Ballet, Tyler Civic Ballet, Festival Ballet of Denton, and Ballet Concerto of Fort Worth. She studied ballet, jazz, hip-hop, flamenco, and modern intensively at Cleveland Ballet, Ballet Magnificant!, Margo Dean  School of Ballet, and Dallas Powerhouse of Dance.  In addition to the fourteen Nutcracker performances with various companies, she has also participated in Imagination Celebration, Fort Worth ISD Lector Demonstrations, Main Street Arts Festival, Summer Dance Concert, NCA Cheerleading and Dance Competitions, and Dallas Dance for the Planet.

Beth has been teaching ballet for 15 years with many different facilities including Trinity Valley School of Ballet, Clayton Youth Enrichment Services, Denton Parks and Recreation, St. Mary’s Catholic School and TJC. For the past 10 years, she has participated in as well as directed many ballets and liturgical dance performances in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  

Beth currently lives in Longview, with her supportive husband Kyle and children Alex and Avery Bennett.

Jennifer Bailey

Jennifer BaileyJennifer Bailey, formerly Division Director of Fine & Performing Arts/Department Chair, Dance & Theatre/Director of the Tyler Junior College Academy of Dance. She directed and choreographed “The Nutcracker”, Student/Faculty Recital, and Dancefest for ten years and now spends the majority of her time at home with her two precious boys. Mrs. Bailey is currently teaching Dance Appreciation and ballet classes in the Academy. In past years her students have performed for Mistletoe & Magic, Discovery Science Place, March of Dimes, Dancing With the Tyler Stars, numerous nursing homes and other community events. Many of her students have continued their collegiate dance education in colleges and universities across the United States.

Mrs. Bailey graduated cum laude from La Roche College in Pittsburgh, PA with a Bachelor of Arts-Dance Performance degree and a minor in business. At La Roche, she studied under the professional direction of Kenneth Nickel, Gerard Holt, Sarah Everhart, Claudia Morris, Elizabeth Karas, and Mary Chipman. Beginning her dance training at age three, she studied under Kathy Bazzano, Lee Gerard, Leonid Lubarsky, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Mrs. Bailey continues her dance education by participating in summer workshops in Pittsburgh, PA.

Her repertoire includes a variety of roles in “The Nutcracker” - including Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Snow, Waltz of the Flowers, and Sugar Plum Fairy. She danced the role of Carlotta Grisi in “Pas De Quatre” and has also performed the role of Stepsister and Cinderella in “Cinderella.” Other ballets include “Coppelia” where she danced the Mazurka and Czardus and “Swan Lake” as a demi-soloist. Mrs. Bailey has performed in “Peter Pan,” “Of Thee I Sing,” “Oklahoma,” and “Fete De La Dance.” She also performed with the Johnson City Ballet in Tennessee.

Jennifer is certified in ballet Cecchetti levels I and II and Bronze level I and II in ballroom dance.

Since joining the TJC faculty in 2002, she has choreographed for the annual musicals including “The Tempest,” “Scrooge,” “Peter Pan,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Cotton Patch Gospel,”and “Chicago.”

From 2003-2007 Mrs. Bailey was the Assistant Artistic Director and board member for Ballet Tyler.

Mrs. Bailey also serves on the board for “Dancing with the Tyler Stars” supporting the programs of Tyler Aids Services. She won the men’s division in the 2006 “Dancing with the Tyler Stars,” and also participated as an instructor for the 2007, 2008 and 2010 events and served as a judge for the 2011 and 2012 event.

Shurrell Smith Wiebe

Mrs. Shurrell Smith Wiebe has 35 years of dance experience, including 18 years as a performer, teacher, and choreographer. She studied internsively under the direction of Pam Erwin and Thereza Bryce-Cotes. She performed in the Dance Factory's top perfoming group, performing concerts locally and others around east Texas. She also attended three years of summer intensives at Texas Christian University, two years at Alvin Ailey in New York, and one year in Los Angeles with Doug Cauldwell.

In 1987 she trained with Dallas Black Dance theatre in Dallas where she later then went on to perform with the company. Shurrell recieved a full dance scholarship to Oklahoma University in 1989. She chose to move to California where she continued training and had small dance roles in the t.v. series Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and various commercials. In 1991 she went to Kilgore College on a dance scholarship and gaduated with a dance degree. Shurrell auditioned for John Robert Powers Talent division and performed for the International Modeling and Talent Association in Los Angeles. She was on the North Texas Dance Team in 1992. She recieved a Bachelors Degree in 1995 from UTTyler. One year later she added a degree in Education and taught for Tyler ISD as well as taught evening dance classes for Pam Erwin. She was 1999 Teacher of the Year at Plyler.

Shurrell also taught for Star Dance Productions, School of Ballet Tyler, and worked and choreographed pieces for company members of Ballet Tyler. Shurrell continued her training as a dancer and teacher attending wokshops at TWU, Alvin Ailey, Planet Funk, L.A. Dance Force, Joe Tremaine. Susan Douglas Roberts, Finus Yung, Gelsey Kirkland, and recently attended a workshop at Julliard in New York.

Shurrell has choreographed many productions such as : Trail of Tears, Dance Around The World, American Portraits-Schools, Fame, Dance School Musical, Cats, Africa, the opening for Miss Tyler pageant in 2005, Just Say No for TISD students and many other individual pieces for YAGP. She has trained dancers that have gone on to recieve dance scholarships and company positions. Shurrell has a passion for the art of dance and hopes to pass this appreciation on to others.